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2013 Fall Issue 4 (October 18, 2013)

CSA Amplifies Student Outreach, Encourages Feedback

October 18, 2013
By Erika Tyagi

What did they talk about at the last CSA meeting? Who are ‘they,’ even? Chances are, if you ask most Carls, they couldn’t tell you. The CSA’s recently-formed Leadership and Outreach Committee is taking steps to change that.

President Matthew Fitzgerald’s Leadership and Outreach initiative will involve four primary components: CSA Senate office hours, a CSA funded event, improved social media usage, and a leadership conference. While the CSA event and leadership conference are still being planned, office hours and social media outreach are expected to begin this term.  

Fitzgerald discussed the primary goals of this new method of reaching out to the student body.

“First we want to put ourselves out there: this is what we’re working on and here’s something you can be excited about,” he explained. “The flip side of that is, ‘What do you need? What are you interested in?’”

Unlike the CSA Senate meetings, which he describes as “intimidating,” he said, “Office hours are our way of trying to judge the student ‘temperature’ if you will, in a much less formal way.”

While CSA senators are optimistic about the office hours initiative, it won’t be the first time such an attempt has been made. According to CSA Vice President Adele Daniel ’14, CSA senators held office hours as recently as 2011.

Unfortunately, according to Fitzgerald, “These office hours were poorly attended both by the senators and by the students. You can’t work if there’s no one there.”

This time, he thinks, “better marketing” will make things will be different.

“Instead of spreading office hours out over the course of the whole ten weeks, we’re going to focus on the last five weeks of the term,” he explained, “having already done work for the first five weeks to have some content.”

Fitzgerald also believes that holding these office hours in more convenient locations, the library in the evenings and in Sayles during common time, will encourage student participation.

The second key component of the Leadership and Outreach initiative that Carleton students can expect to see in the near future is the CSA’s expanded use of Facebook and Twitter.  The senators hope to use social media to keep students up-to-date on the group’s activities.

Currently, the minutes of CSA meetings are posted on the organization’s website.  As Senator Robert Kaylor ‘16, however, pointed out, “No one really reads them, save the senators themselves.” 

According to Secretary Gabe Jacobson ‘17, social media might be key to changing that.

“It’s the easiest and fastest way to get CSA and the Senate more transparent and to involve the students,” he said.

Although CSA leaders remains optimistic about the new outreach and leadership initiative, they realize that a fundamental change in the accessibility of the governing body will not take place overnight.

“I’m not sure if it’s a silver bullet, but it’s definitely a good start,” said Fitzgerald.

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